UMD Dining — No return on investment
By James Marrow
University of Maryland students returned from summer vacation this year to the campus’s new dining plan. The plan is an all-you-can-eat, Anytime Dining system that is similar to most universities in the Big Ten.
In the Anytime Dining system, there is a ‘base plan’ that will include North and South Campus dining halls and 251 North, a ‘basic plus plan’ that adds 200 dining dollars, a ‘preferred plan’ that adds 300 dining dollars for shops and cafes and a ‘premium plan’ that adds 400 dining dollars.
There are door prices available for non-dining plan holders — according to the university, if students do not have a dining plan, they can spend $7.95 for breakfast, $12.95 on lunch and $15.95 for dinner. Students with dining plans also get a varying number of guest passes depending on the plan chosen.
There are biometric palm scanners in the dining halls that open a gate to the food selection area when students’ hands are successfully scanned. The anytime dining plan eliminated all carryout options at the dining halls.
I feel like I have been tricked into wasting a ridiculous amount of money on something that has no return on investment.
This dining plan in theory is great. I get to eat what I want, as much as I want and “anytime” I want with no point system being an obstacle in how many times I come into the diner. Unfortunately, the reality is, I cannot eat what I want, when I want and the food is not even great to begin with.
The first time I walked into the diner this school year, I was heartbroken.
I walked in to see that the deli line was severely limited, the higher quality ice cream station with a variety of flavors was replaced with the lower quality ice cream previously reserved for 251 North, and the fan-favorite quesadillas were made smaller, less flavorful, and were only available for late night. The mozzarella sticks, wings, and other late night snacks are nowhere to be found. The Mexican food station in South Campus diner has been replaced and the South Campus stir fry station has seen its ingredients cut.
The food quality already left a lot to be desired, but now the food that was at least tolerable to me was now history. Nearing the end of the first month of the academic year, I have gone to the diner only about 20 times and have chosen stir fry a fourth of those times. To me, the stir fry station is the best option in the diner. It’s beyond me how Maryland can afford biometric hand scanners but can’t afford quality food.
The worst part about this is that the first time I stepped into the diner this year I had greatly lowered my expectations and still the diner managed to disappoint me heavily.
Maryland needs to stop trying to fit in with its Big Ten counterparts and instead reflect more of what students want to eat and how they want to eat it.